Queer Terms

ABOUT QUEER TERMINOLOGY

We know that there are many terms related to the 2SLGBTQ (Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community and that the evolution of our community’s language is one of our greatest assets.

Sometimes this means that words are abandoned because of the stigma attached to them, or they are reclaimed as a form of empowerment, or new words are created that affirm and resonate with people's experiences.

OUTSaskatoon strives to be current with our language in order to be responsive and relevant to our community. We know that language is power and as our community and society evolves, so will the way we define ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 


Before wading into the long list of terms and words related to the 2SLGBTQ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community, it's can be helpful to understand the basics. All people have a sex, gender, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Based upon perceived societal norms, myths, and stereotypes we can tend to think these identities overlap or cause one another. However, in order to better understand identity, it helps to simplify things and think of these identities as separate from one another.

Sex: sex is comprised of DNA, hormones, genitalia, resproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics. Sex is often seen as defining a person's gender - think gender reveal parties. However, sex does not determine gender, it simply tells us about a person's body and body parts.

Gender: The way a person identifies themselves and experiences gender internally. Gender is inherently different from the sex one is assigned at birth. It is the sense of being a woman, man, non-binary or any other gender. It involves gender roles (the expectations and norms imposed on a person because of their gender), gender attribution (how others perceive a person’s gender), and gender identity (how a person labels their own gender).

Gender Expression: The way a person outwardly expresses their gender (whether it be feminine, masculine, both or neither) through clothing, makeup, hair, and body language.

Sexual Orientation: A person’s natural attraction to other people, or to no one. Attraction is a healthy and natural part of a person’s identity. Historically many cultures believed that same gender or multiple gender attraction was the norm.

While many people know early on who they are attracted to, other people may not realize their attraction (especially same gender or multiple gender attraction) until much later in life. This is often due to factors such as family dynamics and belief systems, experiences with school and community, a lack of representation of queer people, internalized homophobia, and more. Some people may experience fluidity within their attraction, while other people may experience their attraction as concrete and consistent throughout their lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex: sex is comprised of DNA, hormones, genitalia, resproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics. Sex is often seen as defining a person's gender - think gender reveal parties. However, sex does not determine gender, it simply tells us about a person's body and body parts.

Female: Typically when we think of a female body we think of someone with a vagina, estrogen, XX chromosomes, ovaries, a uterus, and secondary sex characteristics like breasts, wider hips, and less body hair. 

Intersex: The term for people who have variations in their chromosomes, reproductive organs, hormones, or genitalia that aren’t easily categorized into female or male. Intersex people may have variations in one or more sex traits.

Male: Typically when we think of a male body we think of someone with a penis, testosterone, XY chromosomes, testes, and secondary sex characteristics like an adams apple, deeper voice, and body/ facial hair.

Assigned Gender at Birth: Used to describe what gender someone was assigned at birth simply based upon their sex. This term helps to remind us that gender is arbitrarily assigned at birth solely based on anatomy. AFAB (assigned Female at Birth). AMAB (assigned Male at Birth).

Gender: The way a person identifies themselves and experiences gender internally. Gender is inherently different from the sex one is assigned at birth. It is the sense of being a woman, man, non-binary or any other gender. It involves gender roles (the expectations and norms imposed on a person because of their gender), gender attribution (how others perceive a person’s gender), and gender identity (how a person labels their own gender).

Gender Expression: The way a person outwardly expresses their gender (whether it be feminine, masculine, both or neither) through clothing, makeup, hair, and body language.

Gender Binary: The concept that there are only two genders (man and woman). Identities that are not strictly male and female exist outside of this gender binary. This concept often excludes people who are gender non-conforming and/or intersex. 

Assigned Birth Gender: Used to describe what gender someone was assigned at birth simply based upon their sex. This term helps to remind us that gender is arbitrarily assigned at birth solely based on anatomy. AFAB (assigned Female at Birth). AMAB (assigned Male at Birth).

 

 

 

A person’s gender modality refers to whether they identify with their assigned sex and gender (eg. Cisgender) or whether they don’t (eg. Transgender). Whereas, gender Identities are the gender a person is (woman, man, non-binary, gender fluid, etc).

Cisgender: A person whose gender is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, a woman who was assigned female at birth and grew up always identifying as a woman is a cisgender woman. 

Transgender: A person whose gender is different from the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, a person who was assigned female at birth but grew up knowing they were a boy and man is a transgender man. 

Agender: A person who does not identify with any gender; they may feel genderless.

Bigender: An person who identifies with two gender identities. Any combination of genders is possible. These genders may be present simultaneously or they may fluctuate.

Gender Fluid: A gender identity that changes with time, circumstances and/or situations. Gender fluid is different from Genderqueer expression, or fixed gender, in that genderfluid expressions can change both gradually or quickly.

Genderqueer: An umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities often used by people who do not identify within the gender binary.

Man: A person, regardless of being transgender or cisgender, who is a man. 

Non-binary: A person whose gender exists outside of the gender binary. The term can be used solely to describe one’s gender or can be used as an umbrella term to describe all genders that exist outside of the binary.

Woman: A person, regardless of being transgender or cisgender, who is a woman. 

Sexual Orientation: A person’s natural attraction to other people, or to no one. Attraction is a healthy and natural part of a person’s identity. Historically many cultures believed that same gender or multiple gender attraction was the norm.

While many people know early on who they are attracted to, other people may not realize their attraction (especially same gender or multiple gender attraction) until much later in life. This is often due to factors such as family dynamics and belief systems, experiences with school and community, a lack of representation of queer people, internalized homophobia, and more. Some people may experience fluidity within their attraction, while other people may experience their attraction as concrete and consistent throughout their lifetime.

Romantic Orientation: Attraction that evokes a want and desire to engage in intimate romantic behavior (e.g., flirting, dating, marriage) with specific people. Not all people experience the same level or type of romantic attraction and some people do not experience any. 

Asexual: A person does not experience, or experiences very little sexual attraction towards people. A person who is asexual can have sex and even enjoy it, but they generally do not experience the desire to have sex.

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to two (or more) genders. Some bisexual people define their identity as being attracted to women and men, while others may define their identity as being attracted to their own and other genders. 

Demisexual: A person whose sexual or romantic attraction is dependent on creating a strong emotional bond. Most people who are demisexual feel rare instances of sexual attraction compared to the general population. This means that they often need to have a strong friendship or emotional connection before wanting to become intimate.

Gay: A person who is attracted to people of the same gender. Historically the term was used exclusively for men who were attracted to men. It has also been used as an umbrella term to refer to the entire 2SLGBTQ community. Today we are shifting to using the term queer.

Gray-asexual: A person who experiences some sexual/romantic attraction from time to time. The frequency and intensity varies from person to person.

Heterosexual: A person who is attracted to people of the “opposite gender”. 

Lesbian: A person (woman or non-binary) who is exclusively attracted to women. Historically this term was only used for women who were attracted to women, however today we include non-binary people who are exclusively attracted to women. 

Polysexual: A person who is attracted to more than two genders.

Pansexual: A person who is attracted to people regardless of their gender.

Questioning: Refers to individuals who are in the process of figuring out how they feel about and what language fits best for their sexual orientation, gender, and/or gender expression. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Spirit: Indigenous people who are gender and/or sexually diverse. Two Spirit encompasses the interconnectedness of one's own cultural identity, gender, and romantic/sexual identity. Being Two Spirit is a very fluid identity and each community and Indigenous person has their own understanding of what it means to be Two Spirit.

Nehiyaw / Cree Genders 

Ayaahkwew: Non-binary / Genderfluid

Iskwew: Cisgender woman

Iskwehikan: Transgender woman / Trans-femme

Napehikan: Transgender man / Trans-masc

Napew: Cisgender man

Biphobia: Discrimination that is targeted at Bisexual people often based within the belief that people should either be straight or gay. Biphobia is not limited to the heterosexual community; the Queer community also often perpetuates biphobia.

Cisnormativity: The assumption that everyone is cisgender, based upon the belief that gender is determined by sex traits. These beliefs position cisgender people as superior to transgender people which results in discrimination. An example of cisnormativity is gender reveal parties and the belief that a baby’s gender assignment at birth will remain constant throughout their lifetime.

Cissexism: Attitudes, bias, and discrimination against Transgender people based upon the belief that cisgender people are superior and Transgender people are inferior. An example of cissexism is disregarding a Trans person’s identity, name, and pronouns. 

Heteronormativity: The assumption that everyone is heterosexual, based upon the belief that heterosexuality, based upon the gender binary, is the norm. Heteronormativity includes norms, practices, and institutions that promote heterosexual relationships, binary gender roles, and promotes reproductive sex above all other sexual practices.

Heterosexism: Attitudes, bias, and discrimination against 2SLGBTQ people based upon the belief that heterosexuality is superior and the norm. Heterosexism comes from heteronormative beliefs; that the gender binary and opposite-sex attraction is the only correct practices of gender and sexual orientation. Heterosexism results in legislation and institutions that do not support 2SLGBTQ rights.  

Internalized Homophobia: Negative stereotypes, beliefs, and stigma about 2SLGBTQ people that a person internalizes and turns inwards on themselves. This can manifest as extreme denial, repression, and at times outward displays of homophobia and heteronormative behaviour in order to “seem heterosexual”. Internalized homophobia can often lead to depression or difficulties with anger. Similar to internalized homophobia, people can also experience internalized transphobia, biphobia, etc.

Homophobia: Discrimination that is targeted at 2SLGBTQ people, or those perceived to be part of the community. Homophobia relies on beliefs that being part of the 2SLGBTQ community is unnatural and abnormal and that this justifies discrimination, acts of hate, and violence.

Outing: Revealing someone's gender or sexual orientation without their consent and against their wishes.

Transphobia: Discrimination that is targeted at Transgender people. Transphobia relies on beliefs that being transgender is unnatural and abnormal and that this justifies discrimination, acts of hate, and violence towards trans people.

Ally: A person who supports and advocates for queer identities and the queer community. They do so by actively challenging homophobic and/or transphobic behaviour, language, and systems that disadvatage or hurt queer people. Allies also work on their own learned behaviour and biases. Any person who actively supports Two Spirit, Trans, and Queer people, whether inside or outside of the 2SLGBTQ community, can be an ally.

Androgynous: An individual who expresses their gender as a mix of masculine and feminine characteristics; someone who does not fit neatly into the typical binary gender roles.

Butch: An individual who presents more typically masculine characteristics, mannerisms, expressions, behav- iours or appearance.

Coming Out: The ongoing process of someone acknowledging their sexuality and/or gender to themselves and to others. Coming out is a process that is specifc to each person and does not have a set timeline or process. A person can come out in whatever way feels best for them. This may look like telling people face-to-face, writing a letter, or calling or texting people. 

Coming out can also be seen as a Western concept and other cultures may have different ideas or practices for how a person acknowledges who they are and how that may be shared with others. Some cultures consider sexuality and gender to be private matters while others see this as shared knowledge.

Drag: An artform and important part of queer culture that allows people to express themselves through makeup, performance, attire, dance, and music. Drag is often a way for a person to explore gender, whether through a critical or playful lense. A person of any gender can perform as a Drag King, Queen, or Thing.

Drag kings are typically performers who play around with and push the confines of masculinity, drag queens typically do the same but with femininity, and drag things are performers who defy all gender norms and perform both, neither, or all of the above.

Dyke: Historically a derogatory term used in reference to a lesbian. The term has now been reclaimed by some. If you hear it being used in a derogatory way, call it out.

Fag / Faggot: Historically a derogatory term used in reference to a gay man. The term has now been reclaimed by some. If you hear it being used in a derogatory way, call it out. 

Femme: An individual whose gender expression is typically more feminine.

Metrosexual: A heterosexual male who is very conscientious of his appearance and enjoys putting effort into his aesthetic presentation.

Monogamy: A relationship type where a person maintains an exclusive romantic and/or sexual relationship with only one person.

Polyamory: A relationship type where a person maintains more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship with other people. Polyamory is also dependent on all people being aware of all relationships. 

Pronouns: The words that are used to refer to a person when you aren’t using their name. Common pronouns in the English language include he/him, she/her, and they/them. There are many more pronouns that people use outside of these three. Anyone, regardless of their gender identity can use whichever pronouns they feel most comfortable using. 

Queer: A term that has recently been reclaimed by many within the 2SLGBTQ community. Historically, the term was used to degrade and insult people who were part of, or thought to be part of the community. Today, many people have reclaimed the term and use it as an umbrella term in order to refer to the entire 2SLGBTQ community or to broadly state that they are part of the 2SLGBTQ community.

If you hear this term being used in a derogatory manner and you consider yourself to act as an ally of the Queer community, please acknowledge how this word is being used and educate the person using it.

Deadnaming: When a person unintentionally or intentionally uses a person’s incorrect name (often the name they were given at birth) instead of using their current and correct name (the name they chose when they began transitioning). Using a person’s deadname is often quite hurtful. If you unintentionally use the their deadname, quickly apologize. However, if you are intentionally using it, this will most likely impact your relationship with them.

Gender Affirming: Intentional actions, behaviours, policies, or supports that validate someone’s gender identity and gender expression. Examples include providing hormones to
patients who are transgender, teachers asking for pronouns at the beginning of the school year, or organizations that change their intake forms to allow for more than two gender options. 

Gender Affirming Products: Various products or garments that affirm someone’s gender. These may include chest binders, bras, breast forms, wigs, gaffs, packers, or other products, garments, or accessories. 

Gender Affirming Surgery: A medical option that involves surgical alterations to one’s body that are in line with their transition goals. Gender affirming surgery may include top surgery (chest), bottom surgery (genitalia), and more.

Gender Dysphoria: The extreme anxiety or stress that a person experiences when they are not perceived as their true gender.

Gender Euphoria: The extreme bliss or joy that a person experiences when they are perceived as their true gender.

Hormone Therapy: A medical option that involves taking hormones and/or anti-androgens in order to develop or emphasize physical attributes in line with a person’s transition goals. 

Misgendering: When a person unintentionally or intentionally uses the wrong pronouns or gendered language for a person (ie. he/him, she/her, sir, ma’am, lady, young man). If you use the wrong pronouns or gendered language, quickly apologize. If you are intentionally using the wrong pronouns or referring to them incorrectly, this may impact your relationship with them.

Puberty Blockers: Medication that acts as a pause button for the onset of puberty. When a person goes off puberty blockers, puberty will resume just as if they hadn’t taken blockers, or they will start hormone therapy. 

Transitioning: the process a person may go through in order to feel more comfortable socially, physically, and legally. Transitioning is a term used to describe the ways a person may adjust their social, physical, or legal realities to feel more comfortable in their everyday life. It’s important to note that:

• Transitioning does not validate or invalidate a trans person’s identity
• A person who is transgender does not need to transition
• Some trans folks may undergo some, all, or no types of transitions.
• Trans people do not have to transition to hyper-feminine or masculine identities and expressions in order to fulfill stereotypical feminine or masculine roles. (eg. trans women can be tomboys / trans men can be effeminate)

 

 

 

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